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U.S. Delegation Statement to the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE)
January 14, 2008

U.S. Statement by Stephen Mathias, Head of Delegation

Meetings of the Group of Governmental Experts of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW-GGE)

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

I would like to start by thanking you for chairing these important negotiations and for engaging in the process with so much energy and good will. We look forward to working closely with you and all other delegations to make the outcome of this process a success.

My delegation is very pleased to be participating in the first round of negotiations on a new instrument addressing cluster munitions within the framework of the CCW. The United States strongly supported launching this process. We have taken this position due to the importance of the issue, concerns raised by other countries, and our own concerns about the humanitarian implications of these weapons. We strongly support the CCW as the appropriate framework for these negotiations because we believe that it is most likely to achieve a result that balances humanitarian concerns with military utility and is, therefore, likely to have a more substantial impact than a result that fails to garner the support of many military powers.

We are all concerned about the impact of unexploded ordnance, and there has been a great deal of discussion about the particular situation of ERW from cluster munitions. NGOs and the ICRC in particular have made it a key component of their public statements. The United States has almost two decades of experience in helping other countries dispose of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), including cluster munitions. The United States Government operates clearance activities on a greater scale, and in more countries, than any other donor or international organization. This assistance has totaled well over $1.1 billion and has taken place in over 52 countries. Based on that experience, we believe that some of what is said for public consumption on these issues is not accurate. Nevertheless, we believe that the issue of cluster munitions must be addressed. If we are to achieve a common approach that will address the real issues in an effective way, it should be an approach that is grounded in all the relevant facts and considerations, including consideration of humanitarian priorities, in the context of all landmine and ERW impacts, and factors related to military necessity.

Let us try to achieve two things during this first round of negotiations: a common understanding of the particular technical aspects of cluster munitions and their military necessity and operational role; and a clear understanding of what delegations believe they can and cannot accept in a potential instrument.

First, we must establish a foundation for successful negotiations by exploring in depth a number of technical and military issues this week. It will be critically important for the delegates in this room to share a common understanding of the technical aspects of cluster munitions and their military necessity, and the legal and operational issues surrounding their proper use in order to negotiate a meaningful and balanced instrument that will advance the objectives we all share. We hope that the military-technical portion of this week can be successful in this regard.

In this connection, I would like to highlight that we have brought with us on our delegation some subject matter experts who will be making presentations.

· First, COL Gary Kinne (the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Capability Manager for Rocket and Missile Systems) will provide a briefing on the military utility of cluster munitions. This briefing will provide insight on current Army research and development efforts designed to improve our cluster munitions, information on the military utility and requirements for cluster munitions, and the U.S. employment of cluster munitions.

· Second, Mr. Lee Springer, an Army fuze expert, will make a presentation on the technical aspects of fuze design and operation and the impact of technology in reducing unexploded ordnance.

· Third, Major Michael McClung, a U.S. Joint Staff Targeting Procedure expert and LtCol John Havranek, Legal Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will make a presentation on targeting and the application of international humanitarian law. This briefing will outline the procedures for conducting targeting analysis and our compliance with international humanitarian law. The process evaluates and establishes targets and determines the most effective weapons to attack targets. The briefing will highlight how international law is applied and how considerations, such as collateral damage, are taken into account.

Second, we believe that it would benefit the process enormously if as many delegations as possible can offer their views this week on the overall objective and the particular content of the instrument we are negotiating. We think it will be particularly useful to understand delegations’ positions with respect to both the elements they would affirmatively like to see in the text, and the elements that they would oppose. This will allow you, Mr. Chairman, as well as all of us in this room, to prepare for the next round of negotiations with a realistic sense of where the best ground is for achieving consensus and making real progress on this important issue.

With respect to this point, at the appropriate time during the week, Mr. Chairman, I would be pleased to make a statement specifically on what the United States believes to be the most important elements to consider during our negotiations.

Again, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for the role you are playing and wish you every success in guiding us toward a successful result.